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Uruguay parliament approves sex change law

[JURIST] The Uruguayan Parliament [official website, in Spanish] on Monday unanimously approved [press release, in Spanish] legislation that provides rules for individuals seeking to change their gender identity. The bill, which was approved by Uruguay's Senate [official website, in Spanish] on Monday, had been approved by the House of Representatives [official website, in Spanish] last month. The legislation allows [El Pais report, in Spanish] an individual to undergo a sex change at age 18, and allows the person to change his or her name and sexual identity on any official documents, including those dealing with marriage and travel. The bill must now be signed by President Tabare Vazquez [BBC profile] in order to take effect.

Uruguay has been on the forefront in dealing with issues concerning gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals in Latin America. Last month the Uruguayan Senate voted 17-6 to approve [press release, in Spanish; JURIST report] a law legalizing adoption by same sex couples. The new law will permit adoptions by couples in both marriages and civil unions after four years of cohabitation. The Uruguayan common-law relationship law [text, PDF, in Spanish] allows couples to apply to be legally recognized as a civil union after five years of living together regardless of the gender of the parties. It was enacted amid much controversy in December 2007 and went into effect in January 2008.

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